With emotional ‘farewell’, Maldives’ first resort takes break amidst coronavirus outbreak

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the Maldivian economy hard, as travel restrictions and other preventive measures affect the country’s lucrative tourism industry, which contributes the bulk of the island nation’s state revenue and foreign reserves.

Before the pandemic, the government had been bullish about tourism prospects, targeting two million, high-spending holidaymakers this year after last year’s record 1.7 million.

However, tourist arrivals saw a year-over-year decline of 22.8 per cent in the first 10 days of March. With arrival numbers falling, several resorts across the Maldives are being closed.

One notable resort that is suspending its operations is Kurumba Maldives, the very first resort that introduced tourism to the Maldives and whose opening in 1972 kicked off the island nation’s transformation from one of the world’s poorest countries to a world-class holiday destination favoured by the rich and famous.

Below is a message Kurumba, part of Universal Resorts which is closing all of its eight resorts for three months, shared on Facebook, as it closed on Wednesday for a three-month period — perhaps the longest break in the resort’s 47 years of operations:

So here it goes. Another chapter in the long history of Kurumba, and this time we are truly heading out into uncharted waters. Today marks the first day of our three-month resort closure. For the very first resort to open here in the Maldives, this was indeed a very difficult decision, however, bearing in mind the safety of our team and our guests, and the crippling effect of the Covid-19 virus on the global tourism industry, it was to say the least, super necessary.

Who would have imagined just a couple of months ago, that it would ever come to this? We were looking at one of the best quarters in recent years. January and February targets achieved, March was already in the bag, and Easter in April was looking great! Guest satisfaction was sky high, and team morale was booming! What a great way to start the year. Yes, the virus situation had already started in Wuhan, and the loss of incoming business from China would have an impact, but like the rest of the world, we were not bothered. Life was good, business was good, this would not impact us, and no way could this get any worse… Fast forward to April 1, 2020, and we are sitting here finalising the closing inventories for the resort, coordinating with the teams on how we will get our 400 remaining team members back home to their families.

As those of you who follow Kurumba, and for those of you who have stayed here, you all know that the team is what makes this resort so special. Their hard work, their smiles and their natural warmth is what has built Kurumba, and made it such a popular resort. Even with all of the uncertainty we are all faced with, they kept working with a genuine smile on their face, and even after the last guest departure a few days back, that smile remains, and the hard work continues. With these upcoming daily entries, I hope to be able to share with you some pictures and some of the activities taking place here at Kurumba over these next few months. Hopefully it will bring back some fond memories, and it will keep us all connected during these challenging times.


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